In the October newsletter I highlighted one of the many challenges to “being the church” that God wants as we represent Christ in our community. The summary was this – we have “consumerism creep.”
Functionally it means that we view church through a lens that too often says: “How does the church serve me and my needs?” It leads to church becoming a spiritual store of spiritual goods and services.
Let me give you another church challenge. I call it the “Entertainment Investment Syndrome.”
We live in a culture that is driven by entertainment. Our phones are more than phones—think movies, games, music devices, podcasts and the joy of receiving those short little messages called “texts.”. But entertainment doesn’t end there. We head home to Alexa with the question of the day, Netflix waiting to be viewed, and yes, instant shopping on Amazon.
I came across a relevant quote from a book that is on my read list.
“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.” ― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
We must admit that we live in a complex age. The challenge is how do we lead people to a place where we don’t need to be always entertained? The temptation here is to “just discipline ourselves so we don’t waste our time with endless entertainment.” But it begs a real question. What would we do to replace that entertainment time?
One answer would be to observe the life of Jesus. He invites us toward a life of spiritual investing rather than entertainment. Look at these profound words from Jesus.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” — Matthew 6:19-20
What might this mean? Could it mean that becoming a spiritual investor has profound benefits over investing in entertainment? Here are a few thoughts for investment.
Investment #1 — God Time
There is no greater spiritual blessing then being refueled by God’s presence. David got this and penned Psalm 84: “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Investment #2 — God-Appointed Relationships
Jesus continually gave his life away to people. There is no greater joy to be had than to see God work in the life of another person as God invites us to walk beside people. It leads the investor to be amazed at the goodness of God and then respond with worship.
Investment #3 — God-Given Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts and abilities are given not to be ignored because of a perceived lack of time. Rather they are assumed as necessary with the end goal toward a greater purpose to build His church and Kingdom and for His glory. One other reality with spiritual gifts, as we practice and use these gifts, we make spiritual deposits that will gain a greater reward for us now and in an age to come.
Here is a challenge. Take a week and add up how many hours we spend amusing ourselves through entertainment with little eternal value. Just maybe there is a better investment path!